During one Valley View Community School physical education class, there are fifth-graders hurriedly running across a basketball court, straining each time to get faster than the last time they spent running from coast to coast on the asphalt. However, while some kids their age would dread this type of activity, the fifth-graders of Erica Klahs’ class are readily enjoying their time.
And they’re doing so because at the end of each race, they all collectively compare and contrast their individual FitBit steps and heart rate with each other.
A total of 17 FitBits were donated to Klahs’ students — 12 of which came from the Santa Clarita Valley Education Foundation and another five that came from a DonorsChoose.org project run by Klahs — and the students take turns using the FitBits in groups of two. Twice a week, 17 students are given the opportunity to wear their bracelets around campus and view their activity level throughout the day.
“In fifth grade, we have to take a physical fitness test and a lot of students aren’t really motivated to run back and forth over and over again,” Klahs said. “But they love their FitBits … it really increased their motivation.”
After various days calculating their steps, students were asked to calculate their daily average steps and then set benchmarks for themselves in terms of how they could improve their fitness, according to Klahs.
“We track our steps, they have a target heart rate and base heart rate,” Klahs said. “They’re supposed to find a certain range when they’re done with their pacers (the name for the activity of running up and down the school basketball court).”
The data collected is then put into an online sheet that the students use to share their progress with one another and host friendly competitions. Those students who don’t reach their goals are then encouraged to recalculate their benchmarks and find a goal that is tangible and based on the already collected data.
“I think it helps us keep track of what we’re doing,” said DeeAngelo Alvarez, one of Klahs’ students. “I can tell how I’m reacting to the stuff I’m doing in P.E.”
“I got 10,000 steps,” said Rufio Simo Borpujari, another fifth-grade student, who added the exercise at school has now become fun. “It challenges me to see if I can get more steps every day.”
Klahs said her goal was to hopefully get more FitBits for next year so her students might not have to trade off days.
“I just hope they’ll learn more about exercise … and their activity level and how to keep track of it,” said Klahs. “It’s really important for the kids to see something that’s tangible and they can understand, ‘Hey, I was really active today.’”